The Thorndyke Elementary community this month went through a boot camp of sorts—with minds and perceptions undergoing some serious flexibility training! The program is called Committing to Diversity, and it kicked off with a Cultural Awareness Academy during which school leaders trained every student and staff member in multicultural awareness. Afterward, they signed a pledge to:
- Embrace diversity of all individuals respecting such attributes as their sex, gender, race, ethnicity, age, class, citizenship, marital status, sexual orientation, nationality, socioeconomic status, religion, physical ability, mental ability and expression.
- Strive toward social justice for all people in order to create and sustain a safer, more productive, and more inclusive campus environment.
- To refrain from using derogatory terms or statements that are harmful and disrespectful to others.
- To not contribute to stereotypes or make generalizations about individuals but to rather use my own experiences and interactions to better understand and embrace all people.
- To educate myself about cultures other than my own.
- To engage in and contribute to the diverse world around me.
- To actively honor this pledge within my everyday life.
“Diversity is more than being aware of the differences of all people, but embracing them as well as actively creating a campus that supports and understands the diversity of its students,” said Assistant Principal Javier Roman, designer and organizer of the program.
The next phases of Committing to Diversity include upwards of 20 more hours of diversity training, learning a new world language, volunteering with a diverse community organization, and writing and presenting an essay about diversity. Small celebrations will happen along the way with a big year-end gala. Parents are also being invited to participate, with the goals of supporting anyone in need of GED training or help with the U.S. citizenship process; translating important documents; and scheduling a forum to talk about diversity progress, insights, and concerns.
Ultimately, this program should create a schoolwide “diversity and inclusion mindset” that will be the foundation for curriculum, activities, messages, and relationships. Participants will see the world through multiple perspectives, model open mindedness, and explore their own cultural identity.